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Olympus Lenses: The Complete Guide

Lesson 1 of 7

Class Introduction to Olympus Lenses: The Complete Guide


Olympus Lenses: The Complete Guide

Lesson 1 of 7

Class Introduction to Olympus Lenses: The Complete Guide


Lesson Info

Class Introduction to Olympus Lenses: The Complete Guide

Well welcome everybody. My name is John Greengo, and we're gonna be talking about Olympus Lenses, the full collection of lenses that Olympus has it's pretty amazing. They address a lot of different needs and that's great, because you can do so many different things with the Olympus cameras and all of these different lenses. So, I've put together a whole class and since I don't know exactly how much knowledge you have, we're gonna cover some basic stuff and some intermediate stuff as well as some more advanced stuff. So we're gonna kinda cover the whole thing here in this class. Now I do wanna mention that this class has been produced with a little bit of help from Olympus. They've sent me out a big collection of lenses, sent me a big box of all their pro lenses and stuff. So I've been out shooting with these over the last month, which has been great 'cause here in Seattle we've had some great events I've been out shooting with. I've been shooting plane shows and hydro-races. Took it ou...

t for a lantern festival at night on the lake which was really great. Shooting with really low light with this equipment and it did really well, and so Olympus helped out, sending us some equipment, and they also supplied some imagery so that you'll see some images in today's class that is not my photographs. These are from other people who are Olympus visionaries that are great photographers and are great examples of what these different lenses can do. But the instruction is all coming from me. So if I make a mistake you can all write a letter and blame me, but I've tried to research this all, get it all straight, and should have some great information for you as we go through this class. Let me tell you what we are going to be doing in this class. I've broken it up into different sections. I wanna start with a little introduction for those who are new to Olympus perhaps. We're gonna go through a few basics for those who are new to photography. We're gonna talk a bit about the Olympus technology. Olympus has been around for a long time and they employ a lot of very interesting techniques in the creation of their lenses that, well, to be honest with you it's not absolutely critical that you know when you're out actually shooting a photo, but when you're looking at different lenses to purchase and you're trying to understand why they are the way they are, it's good to know. And I like this as a photographer, knowing the behind the scenes story why a lens is the way it actually is. And then we're gonna get into probably my favorite section, which is the lens review where we actually just go, one lens through the line up at a time, and we're gonna talk about what it is good for, who it's primarily designed for, and what you would use it for, maybe show you some examples of how it's been used. And then you'll get a good idea of those different lenses. And then finally, recommended systems. Okay, these are my ideas on what I think would be a good system, maybe for a family photographer or somebody who's into adventure work or somebody who does portrait photography. There's gonna be a different collection of lenses that each photographer is gonna have, and I'll give you some ideas and tips on what I think would make for good choices in that regard. All right, I wanna talk a little bit about Olympus and Micro Thirds. 'Cause Olympus has been in the photography game for quit some time, but the types of products that they have offered have changed as technology and times have evolved. And so what we're lookin' at here is an interchangeable camera lens system and the thing that I love about interchangeable lenses is that there are different lenses for lots of different purposes. And so when you change the lens, you are changing the camera, and each lens is a different tool for solving a different type of problem. Now, luckily, most of us don't need all the tools. We need a collection of tools that work for what we're interested in and what we're doing. And so, I think most photographers who have an Olympus camera are gonna probably want two or probably three lenses at a minimum, and then as your needs grow you could have four or five or six lenses, or more like me, but I'm a bad example in that regard. And so, it's a matter of what do you do with your cameras, what do you need? They probably make a solution for you. Now, the primary reason that you're gonna choose a particular lens is for its angle of view, its focal length. What do you see from side to side? And that is essentially telling what type of story can you tell with that lens? What sort of information can you grab? A very important second characteristic is the maximum aperture. This is how much light it can let in. And this is partly for technical reasons. What sort of shutter speeds and ISOs will you be at with the camera is gonna be based on how much light that lens lets in, but it also has a secondary affect on depth of field, which is more on the artistic side of the equation. And so these are some very important issues that we will continue to talk about as we get more into these lenses. Now, there are a lot of secondary characteristics that are things that are important to know. Yes, image quality is a secondary consideration when it comes to a lens for a photographer after its practical application. How sharp is it, for instance. And so we're gonna get in and we're gonna talk about what all these different factors are, some of the Olympus technology that is used to address these issues to either enhance it or diminish it depending on what type of attribute it is, and then there is the physical size of the lens, the way it works, the way it feels in the hand. These can all be very important things to a photographer if you are going to be working with a lens for a long period of time. And so we're gonna cover all of this as we work our way through this class. Now, as I've mentioned before, Olympus has been around for a long time. They have a great history in photography. And one of the things that they designed or set out to design their cameras very early on, as far as three words to inspire their engineers as to the types of products that they were gonna develop, were the words reliability, compact, and light weight. And it's definitely true when you think about the types of products that they've made. In my mind, I've always associated Olympus with compact, quality cameras. Many of their old film cameras back in the days of 35 millimeter film were just notably a little bit smaller than everyone else's, but they still retained the quality. And so if you wanted something really small but good quality, Olympus was always a part of that solution. 1996, I was actually selling cameras, and I remember when the first digital camera came out, came into the stores, it was an Olympus. Actually, it was a set of Olympus cameras and it's hard to believe that we were working with .3 mega-pixel cameras, and these were purchased by people in real estate and some business people who needed immediate photos and didn't wanna deal with film. And Olympus, they kinda had, I don't wanna say low years, but they had year that they weren't as actively involved in the consumer photographic community during some of the years of the late SLR auto-focus era. When digital came around they saw a new opportunity, and they saw that photography was going to change and it was a good time to get back into the market for a full scale, consumer products. And they introduced what's called the four-thirds format, and this is an SLR-based camera that used interchangeable lenses. And that was the predecessor to what we're gonna be talking about today. And I'm gonna explain about those differences here in just a moment. In 2009, they saw a new opportunity with mirror-less cameras, and so they decided to kind of make some adjustments to what they were doing, came out with a new type of camera and new types of lenses that enabled us to do a couple of things. One is to have smaller cameras. So you could have a little camera, like one of my favorite here, the little pin-F camera. And this is a tiny little camera, and they have a lot of tiny little lenses for this for people who want really small little cameras and products, but over the years they've been coming out with more and more Larger equipment that has even higher quality and more capabilities for those who wanna step up and do different types of photography. So they do offer a variety of products depending on what you want to do with photography. Now, any camera is very much based on the sensor that is in the camera, and I wanna talk about that first. So the sensor in this camera is what is known as a four-thirds sensor. It measures 17 millimeters by 13 millimeters, width versus height. It has an aspect ratio of four to three, which is part of the reason why the name of this system is called the Four Thirds System. Four-Thirds also applies to the actual physical size, not just the aspect ratio. It goes into the way television tubes were made, and we're not gonna get into the specifics of it, but it's the name that this system uses. And where it fits into the larger world of photography is that it's bigger than some other sensors, like ones in your phones and small point shoot cameras and it's smaller than ones in other cameras. There's a lotta different sensors to meet a lotta different needs. Olympus went with this system because they thought it was the best trade-off with compact size, but still attaining high image quality. Now, over the years, one of the systems that has proven to be popular was 35 millimeter film. As things moved forward into the digital era, people called these cameras full frame cameras. And it's a common system that's out on the market that you need to be aware of. Now this system if you were to measure it diagonally, which is one of the ways that you kinda figure out what's a standard lens on a camera, is 43 millimeter and we round that up to 50 millimeter. So 50 millimeter is a normal lens on a full frame camera. If we measure the Four Thirds sensor diagonally, we get 21 millimeter, we round that up a little bit, and occasionally in photography we do a little rounding just to simplify things. In that case a 25 millimeter lens on an Olympus camera is a normal camera. So, a lot of times when you're out in the world investigating photography you'll see this crop factor or you might see something by Olympus that says 35 millimeter equivalent or two times crop, and this is what they're referring to is that the sensor size is smaller and that the lenses that you get will be a little bit different focal lengths. So just as an example, if you were to shoot a photo with a 50 millimeter lens on a full frame camera it's gonna look pretty much identical to a 25 millimeter lens on an Olympus camera. Now there is the aspect ratio is slightly different it is four by three rather than one by one and a half. And you can pick and choose whether you like that or not. I find the four by three aspect ratio is much easier to work with, especially in vertical. And so it's a good system. They're not that far apart so it's not really that big a deal. And so that's the whole crop factor that you will hear about in the rest of the world. Now if you just own Olympus, it doesn't really matter. 25 millimeter is your normal lens and you can just work from there. Now let's talk a little bit about the history of the Four Thirds System from Olympus. They originally started this back in 2003, and they had a number of SLR styled cameras that had interchangeable lenses that came out with a full collection of lenses, and I have to say that some of their lenses were very impressive. They came out with some very high-end pro lenses that were doing things that were not possible with full frame cameras. And that was part of the allure of the Four Thirds System is that with the smaller size sensor it enabled them to do things that couldn't be done before. Now its transitioned and the system that we are looking at today with Olympus is the Micro Four Thirds System. There's a number of lenses, and there are a lot of cameras as well for this, and this is the system that we're gonna be talking about in this class and what Olympus is doing going forward. Now the Four Thirds System was based on the single lens reflex. And this was what was the most popular style of film camera so it was natural when we went to digital that a lot of companies just made SLR versions of those film cameras. Now this has a mirror in it which is where the r in reflex comes from, and it bounces the light up through a prism system. And this was a very good system because it allows you to see through the view finder exactly what your lens sees, whether you have a filter on it, the sharpness of it, the angle of view, all of that could be seen. It was a very good viewing experience. The problem is is that the lens mount and the image sensor were relatively far apart and it kind of tied the hands of the lens designers and what they could design for the lens. It also made the camera a little bit bigger than it truly needed to be. And so the next stage of development for cameras was to take out that mirror and just use the light coming into the sensor and use that on the LCD screen or through an electronic view finder to see what your image is. Now the beauty of this system is that you get to see whether your subject is correctly exposed, which was never possible with an SLR System. You get to see if you have the correct white balance set, and that was not possible with an SLR System. It also enabled them to make the cameras a little bit smaller, thus making the whole package of lens and camera a bit smaller in size. It also enabled them to make a little bit sharper lenses because then it had this constraint of where the lens had to be pushed away from the camera body. So there was a lot of good reasons to go to the mirror-less system, but it meant that the older lenses would not work on this new mirror-less system. And so, the older system and the current system from Olympus both use a four thirds sensor, they have a four thirds mount, but the flange distance, the distance between where you mount the lens and where the sensor is, is notable different, and the lenses do not match without some sort of adapter on it. And so there are four thirds lenses and micro four thirds lenses, and you will see this listed on the lenses themselves. Now if you did happen to have this older Four Thirds System from Olympus, you can use all of those older lenses on the more modern cameras. And you can use the Olympus MMF-3 adapter which will adapt those old lenses and allow 'em to work virtually seamlessly on all of the newer cameras. And so it is possible to use old lenses on new bodies. Now looking at the lenses themselves, they can look kind of similar, but you will notice the difference is the Zuiko versus the micro Zuiko name on 'em. The micro Zuiko is for mirror-less, and so you wanna use the mirror-less lenses on the mirror-less cameras for kind of the full capabilities, and that's what we're gonna be talking about in this class is the M. Zuiko lenses.

Class Description


Working with interchangeable lenses can be both exciting and daunting to all levels of photographers. Olympus® Lenses: The Complete Guide with John Greengo will prepare you to select the right lens and get the most out of all of your lens investments. John Greengo is the master of making complex photography concepts easy to understand and in this class, he’ll bring all of your Olympus lens options and operations into focus.


  • Focal length and aperture
  • zoom lenses
  • Which lens accessories to buy
  • Maintaining a lens system

John will cover the full range of Olympus lenses, from ultra-wide to super-telephoto, zooms to primes. You’ll learn how to match the right lens to your needs and get insights on the best ways to use it.

Whether you are thinking about buying a new lens or just want to get the most out of what you already have, Olympus Lenses: The Complete Guide with John Greengo will help you out.


elizabeth chambers

John Greengo's class on lenses was EXCELLENT! This information is very helpful for any prospective Olympus customer or any current Olympus user overwhelmed by the company's lens assortment and interested in learning how the individual components might fit - or not - in their shooting requirements.

user e1cde8

Very Helpful

Mel Sever

I was able to watch the first on microphotography but had to take my wife to the doctor so I missed what I most wanted to see concerning the lens. I have a OMD E-M1 and four lens for it as well as several pro lens for the E3 camera and was looking forward to learning which lens was capable of picture stacking? Is there a way for you to get that information to me? I have looked on the Olympus web site however did not fine it. Thanks